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Universal Background Checks: Shouldn’t We Review the Statistics?

At least 13 states have enacted them, with no effect on murder rate.

by
Clayton E. Cramer

Bio

May 20, 2013 - 12:50 am
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Regarding the recent high-profile tragedies at Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, and at the Clackamas mall in Oregon: Newtown and Clackamas mall involved stolen guns from lawful owners, so a background check is irrelevant. The killers at Aurora and Tucson were both severely mentally ill — but because we decided to destroy our state mental health system in the 1970s, neither had been involuntarily committed, and so both passed the existing national background check system at dealers.

It is not enough to feel that this will make a difference; we need to make evidence-based decisions about what laws to pass. Those who refuse to do math are doomed to talk nonsense.

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Clayton E. Cramer teaches history at the College of Western Idaho. His most recent book is My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill (2012). He is raising capital for a feature film about the Oberlin Rescue of 1858.

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Top Rated Comments   
Why do people keep assuming this about crime?
Gun control is not about crime, or the BATFE would be fighting pitched battles in the Chicago street to take guns away from gangbangers.
Gun control is about control of the law-abiding sheeple so that the state and Federal government can keep sheering them in ever more outrageous fashions.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Background checks are just another method of Big Government to attempt to intimidate the Citizen.
It will not change anything of substance and will cost huge amounts of money to collect and maintain. The people doing this job will be more bureaucrats on the government payroll, which means more taxes to pay and more retirement to provide...... Hmmm, do you think this is really the game? The Alinsky method is to overwhelm the government and the taxpayer and destroy the system...... Think about it.....
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
You just don't understand. In the lefties' world, it's good intentions that matter, not results. How many people die each year because of the federal mandatory fuel economy standards that put Americans in lighter, more dangerous vehicles? How many people are dead world wide because of the ban on DDT? The liberals don't care because these programs were promoted by those who wanted to do good, not mean conservatives.

The same is true with gun control. They don't care if "assault weapons" bans or mandatory background checks save or cost lives. People who feel sad about the Aurora and Newtown shootings want these programs, and those hard hearted conservatives oppose them - so they should be adopted whether or not they actually accomplish anything worthwhile.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (45)
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There is another statistical pitfall in analyzing murder rates over time: changes in victim survival over time, as a consequence of vastly improved trauma care since 1960. This effect is of such magnitude, that if present day victims of criminal violence were treated with 1960s level trauma care, their death rate would be about 4 times higher than it is. In other words, a murder rate of 5 per 100,000 in 2013 equates (roughly) to a murder rate of 20 per 100,000 in 1960 – the same injury in 1960 was 4 times as likely to result in death.

Aggravated assault is a better measure of civil violence, since its definition is solely related, and measured by, the behavior of the aggressor, rather than by the degree of injury to the victim. Violent behavior does not always result in death.

Another way to look at this effect: If the murder rate in 2013 is the same as the murder rate in 1960, the rate of violence now is 4 times as high as it was in 1960.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's because leftist ideology lives in the ideas it creates. They would NEVER think of adding reality to the mix. Too telling.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
its 1775 all over again. King George Three ordered the colonists disarmed, and put Gage on it. Four powder raids later was Lexington and COncord.. the Colonials drew that line in the sand.. we will NOT be disarmed. They weren't, and a nation was born which was based upon the premise that individuals, acting according to their own consciences and values, would govern themselves without help from the ruling elites living in a distant world. Nothing has changed.. this gun control nonsense is stirrd up by phoney events, designed to create a fear in the common man who is utterly dependent upon the ruling elites who live in a world separate from the peons.

NOT ONE of the new laws proposed or passed at any level of government would have stopped any of the mass shootings since 1950. The ONLY thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun... proven over a million times a year. And in the vasst majority of those cases a shot is never fired. Read about a 22 year old licensed handgun owner who stopped the Clackamas Town Centre shooting... without firing his own gun. Nick Mieli, Melli, something like that. Didja read THAT in the mainstream "news"? No, I thought not.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
At the risk of being repetative, let me state the over-riding falacy in the Universal Background Check idea and Gun laws in general. Law abiding citizens obery the law. They will submit to background checks and ever more restrictive laws. After all, they are "law abiding". Criminals, by definition do not obey the laws. You can add another ten laws to the ones on the books currently, and they will disregard them along with the ones they are already disregarding. This leaves the law abiding disarmed and defenseless and the criminals armed and dangerous. This is not rocket science. Its not a difficult concept to grasp, unless of course you are blinded by an agenda.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
We must declare a great war on USA evil . Murder is evil. Only God has right to take lives. Nice strong lasting earthquake. God then brings the saint to heaven the evildoer to hell.
this license to murder must be taken away from man ,no more legal abortion and NO more GUNS in the cities all guns banned in the cities to fight this war against Satan the Devil and his demons.
Call the military in to invade every city to search house to house to take away all guns in the cities. Cities can became sanctuaries for the three Abraham faiths and their families where peace rules
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
go back and read your bible again.. about Cain and Able. No guns involved.. yet Able ended up dead. What was God's answer, to register rocks, or clubs, whatever the "evil item" that was used? Nope.. he moved against the murderer.

Read further, where God declares that if a man breaks into your house at night you can "strike him that he die", and there is no blood guilt on you. If that is not condoning defensive violence what IS it condoning? And I suppose God was wrong in every case where He sent an armed Israel out to destroy an enemy, too...... you are spewing nonsense. There is nothing "evil" about guns... any more than my chef's knife is evil.(a nice German made ten inch monster.. do I NEED such a knife for slicing my tomatoes? No. Is it the best tool for that job" Yes) Can both kill someone Yes. SO can my car, my breaker bar, my trackhoe, my box of matches, my 20 ounce waffle face framing hammer, and, for that matter, my Senco SN 4 framing nailgun. Have ANY of them ever done? Nope. And they won't..... until/unless someone unlawfully threatens MY life or that of someone in my care. And I AM my brother's keeper.. and my neighbours, as well.

God uses various means to act against evil. Sometimes he uses a man. If I am His servant I will not object to His uing ME how HE sees fit. If that means ending the life of a would-be murder, that is not MY problem, but His.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
footnote
this is good first thing I see on the internet this morning is another army general stripped of his command for doing this great evil sin of adultery. Removing sins against God in the military good first step in warring against evil in our nation
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Stop It. Just Stop It. Wake up and smell the coffee. Stop trying to play by the Left's rules. We all know that Congress is a fact-free zone. The Left has an agenda: disarm America. Eliminate all potential resistance. It doesn't matter if we have all the facts on our side because the facts don't matter to the Left. All that matters to the Left is gaining more power.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
>>>The Left has an agenda: disarm America. Eliminate all potential resistance.<<<

You are delusional if you think basic guns have anything to do with anything. The government has F-16's and heavy armour. I am a great deal more of a threat, because people like me are the ones who can figure out how to zap avionics mid-flight, hack the networks and reprogram weapons systems, cause logistical problems via packet spoofs, bring down entire networks and comm systems... etc. Good heavens, who do you think INVENTED this stuff? Santa?

And despite people like me being a great deal more threatening to potential power grabs, it seems that the government isn't all that interested in limiting my rights.

If you honestly really think that "patriots" with rifles are more of a threat to the government's ability to suppress a population and wage war in the 21st century than a cadre of cheesed off and capable engineers, you are simply not paying attention to anything.

Wet your panties when the US is going after scientists. Not guns.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Asymmetric warfare cane be waged in many ways, but "basic guns" are an essential element at some point in the fight. Without them people can easily be cowed and assume they are helpless.

If you really think rifles and handguns in the hands of civilians aren't an important deterrent to tyranny, you haven't been paying attention to recent history around the world.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Read the story of 19th April 1775.... when the Britich Regulars first fired on COlonials and fire was returned. What turned the battle, which lasted all day, was a man named General William Heath.... he was placed in charge of all the mustered troops,, and set them about what he called a "moving circle of fire".. loosely organised militia encircling Pitcairn's men as they retreated to Boston, staying close enough their long range fire could tell on the Redcoats, but distant enough the lesser skilled amassed Regulars could not reach them with return fire. Gage lost half the officers he sent out that day, and suffered casualties three times that of the Colonials. The greatest, best trained, best armed, most feared, military force on the planet was bested by a gaggle of "stupid farmers with their squirrel guns:. That was the first military application fo what we'd call today "guerilla tactics". Heath learned these ideas from studying things like the Indian attacks and wars.... today we call it "assymetrical warfare".

Yes, people with your technical skills will be VERY critical. But a continual harrying, subtle but persistent attacks, surprise, opportunistic raids and strikes, persieted upon over years if need be, will eventually wear down the assailants to the point of exhaustion. It took the Colonials more than ten years to wear out the British. Consider, also, that once things go crazy, from whence will come the central command AND logistical supply to persue open conflict for ten years? We are over a hundred million gun owners in this country, owning some four hundred million arms. Not even house to house searches with dogs, X ray, every means at their disposal, will capture ALL of them. Consider the ghetto in Warsaw.... forty 9mm Lugers and a half a dozen ancient Mauser rifles drove off the German army when they came to take the place..... and they had already searched and captured "all" the firearms from that ghetto.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, patriots with rifles are more of a threat. You can't re-program a rifle or "zap a bullet's avionics mid-flight". In other words, armed citizens are too hard to control. Gun owners tend to think for themselves and are not generally subject to group think. I think you're a little too in awe of yourself.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
LOL! Theres not any strategists among the tyrant killer brigades out there and that will be their downfall no matter how many guns they sling and ammo belts they strap on. Aerial pepper spray and only two psych-ops tactics will stop them in their tracks without the government forces firing a round of any kinds of munitions. This is the 21st century!
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
And you know "there are no stratagists among the tyrant killer brigades" exactly how?? There are quite a number of us who have had extensive military training. Blanket statements presented as "fact" does not make them true.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
People should demand universal background checks to show they care about the children killed by the recent Oklahoma tornadoes. A mandatory background check for all firearms purchases would be no less effective in preventing tornado deaths, as compared with the recent mass shootings.

When will Americans finally say they've had enough?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
To deny that there is a legitimate 'problem' to be addressed in this country with gun violence is within the realm of delusion -- a psychological defect!

There are two primary problems. 1) Who is allowed to keep and bear arms. 2) How guns become accessible to the illegal gun market.
In the first instance. To claim that everybody has a God given right to keep and bear arms is equally as delusional as God told Muslims to kill infidels. On the other hand, IF one agrees that felons and the metally ill do NOT have the rights of God to keep and bear arms , then you have NO legitimate right to claim the government cannot legislate who can keep and bear arms.
In the second instance. If guns are getting into the hands of those not legally entitled to keep and bear arms then theres a real and legitimate problem to be addressed. Licensed dealers selling guns to those not entitled. Legal gun owners not securing their guns from theft. Legal gun owners selling guns to those whom they have no idea if they're legally entitled to purchase, keep and bear arms.

All this citing statistics beyond those of violent crimes committed with firearms and homicides is irrelevant and a strawman argument. This nation has far, far to many violent crimes with guns involved and homicides! You either choose to be a part of solving the problem or you choose to perpetuate the problem -- end of story!
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree that there is a real problem. The problem is that the mandatory background check laws don't seem to do much about that problem.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm 'sort of' agreeing with you Clayton. That said, B/C's should remain in place as only one part of the equasion. B/Bs won't stop illegal gun purchases and violent crimes but if not in place anybody can feel free to walk in and buy a gun which is far worse than having such checks. The ultimate solution is gun owner/retailer criminal/civil liability. Gun onwers and retailers for safe keeping of the weapons from theft. Then criminal liability for retail selling of firearms for which no 'legitimate' B/C was conducted. ALL firearm sales should have a mandatory lifetime record of sales and purchaser(s) with a photo and or thumbprint. None of these things infringe upon the right to keep and bear arms. Again, liability with criminal and civil consequences will do the most to deter "unlawful" possession and use of gun in crimes. Nothing can be a 100% but if done right on this issue, I think 60% is certainly reasonable.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your proposals are ludicrous. And Clayton has already shown why, those states where private transactions have been banned don't show an improvement.

And your liability proposals will do nothing to deter "unlawful" possession or use, only lawful gun owners. Your proposals are nothing but burdens on the constitutional rights of the lawabiding.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
“To claim that everybody has a God given right to keep and bear arms is equally as delusional as God told Muslims to kill infidels.”

Now, there is a nutty statement if I ever read one. Why do you state “everybody” when nobody is claiming such? Or, did you actually mean “anybody” ? If so, then is it really “delusional” to believe that you have a natural right to bear arms so that you may protect yourself or another from bodily harm or death? That is a “delusional” concept, is it?

I suppose a “non-delusional” view would be that you have no right as a person to keep and bear arms for the purpose of protecting yourself or another from bodily harm or death unless that right is granted to you by some person or political group claiming to be superior to you. Is that a view that more closely identifies with your own?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Clearly he's saying that there are limits to all rights. The example was that the mental patients have no such rights. Extrapolate from that: if there are limits to rights, they didn't come from a deity.

Seems simple enough. What part was confusing?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
God did not give us any protocol for limiting the "right to arms" of those who have murdered. No, He had a better plan, but WE, who are SOOOooooo enlightened, think WE know better than He. What, you might ask, is HIS plan? Simple... whoever who, by huis hand, has shed innocent blood, by the hand of man shall HIS blood be shed. In other words, the MURDERER is to be executed. Thus, the whole concept of "felon in possession" goes away. Restore capital punishment for murder, kidnap, and testifying falsely in capital cases, and watch the murder rates drop like a millstone dumped into the bay. Furthe,r restore God's penalties for theft and extortion, which was RESTITUTION to the VICTIM, two to five times what was stolen/destroyed, and watch housebreakings, thefts, robberies, disappear. Then the issue of ownership of arms goes away.

Further, "metnally defective" people were never foisted on any form of civil government in God's economy. No, the "feeble minded" and "weak" were to be cared for by their families, protected, and part of society. Under that plan, no one would be able to acquire dangerous things, as they'd be so well cared for they would be kept from harm... of themselves or others. 'SO...all your fomenting over arms is moot in God's economy.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
We are NOT a national theocracy! That said, you do make a very strong case of validation advocacy for Muslim theocracy.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry, but the "deity" puts limits on rights himself. Every one of the Ten Commandments has a limit. For example. The original Hebrew translation of the Commandments says "Thou shalt not Murder". It did not say "Kill". There can be a vast difference between murder and killing in general, ie: self defence.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
"To claim that everybody has a God given right to keep and bear arms is equally as delusional as God told Muslims to kill infidels"

So you believe the Founding Fathers were delusional. That tells us all we need to know about you.

We are in danger of forgetting that the Bill of Rights reflects experience with police excesses. It is easy to disregard ir the safeguards of civil liberties when invoked on behalf of the unworthy. It is too easy. History bears testimony that by such disregard are the rights of liberty extinguished, heedlessly at first, then stealthily, and brazenly in the end.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have read and studied all the historical accounts as archived, regarding the stark divisions around the issues of militia and gun rights. Have you? NOWHERE, that is nowhere, does either the federalists or the anti federalists make any such claim that the right to keep and bear arms is a God given right in the constitution. Therefore, my argument stands and your argument is delusional. Only self serving activists try to misrepresent 'natural rights' (the John Locke's interpretation of natural rights being God rights thing) as being in the constitution and the 'legal' basis of keep and bear arms.

The Declaration of Independence has no legal authority. It is not part of the basic law of the United States like the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
You are completely lost or disingenuous. The whole thread of natural rights came from the very tradition you deny.

The Constitution itself is not an explanatory document nor a treatise on why the rights exist.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
on what twisted basis do you hold the Declaration of INdependence to be of no legal authority? Fifty four men "therefore pledged to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour" to establish those principles. It was also heavily referenced in the framing of the Constitutioin later on. THAT work declares that these rights are given BY OUR CREATOR. And by "creator" they clearly and boldly indicated they come from the God of the Bible. "Natural rights" were clearly understood as being those accruing to us by nature of our birth as humans. The issues of militia were well agreed upon, militia in that time was simply the local residents of an area, working together, armed with their own weapons, training and coordinating to effect their common defense. Read every word of those first ten Ammendments, (bill of rights), and every one of those points was a direct response to some tyranny or abuse perpetrated upon them within their recent memory which they held to be an abomination, effront, assault upon their liberties as free men. EVERY PARTICLE of right spelled out in those ten articles was put there to prevent those abuses ever occurring agaiin within this nation. Don't forget, EVERY STATE that has joined this Union since the drafting of that Constitution agreed to be bound by every part of those ten articles.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
You are simply wrong on both your history and facts and far from any reality on any of the points you make. I would suggest you read one of the most consolidated and precise pieces on THE MILITIA AND THE CONSTITUTION as complied the the Military Law Review. It is a legal history chronicled in a very long timelime long preceeding the founding of the the U.S., up through the founders many differing opinions and debates on militias, gun rights and on to the final wording of the constitution then on up to the more modern present.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
So why do our officials and military take an oath to "Protect and Defend" the Constitution if it has "No legal authority"? You may have read the "historical accounts", but you clearly don't know how to interpret them, let alone understand them.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
May I respectfully suggest that you and Tionico get a bit more educated/read before attempting to comment on something you have no understanding of. The Declaration of Independence is not a part of the Constitution and has NO legal standing in our basis of law. Feel free to consult any first year law student or his/her professor.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
By the way, the current occupier of the White House has been selling himself as an professor of "Constitutional Law" for years. You don't have to ask a first year law student. I believe the courses in Constitutional Law are mandatory in the second year of Law School.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think it would be a good idea if you took your own advice. Read before you comment. Kindly tell me where in my comment I made any reference to the Declaration of Independence. I quite correctly made reference to the Constitution and the requirement to "Protect and Defend" it made by soldiers and officers in the US military. I took that oath myself when I accepted a commission in the Army many years ago. The constitution is the ultimate "Law of the Land" and as such has complete legal authority. It clearly states it's abilities and it's limitations. Sure sounds like legal authority to me.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Background checks are to fighting crime as cats are to the Iditarod dog sled race.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Background checks are just another method of Big Government to attempt to intimidate the Citizen.
It will not change anything of substance and will cost huge amounts of money to collect and maintain. The people doing this job will be more bureaucrats on the government payroll, which means more taxes to pay and more retirement to provide...... Hmmm, do you think this is really the game? The Alinsky method is to overwhelm the government and the taxpayer and destroy the system...... Think about it.....
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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